Hernandez led Mexico to a 3-1 victory over El Salvador in their Gold Cup opener on Sunday, scoring the winner just before the half-hour mark and setting up El Tri's two other tallies. His decisive strike in the entertaining match at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, came just before the half-hour mark, when he hit an impressive volley from the left side of the penalty area.
Sunday's tilt, which pushes the Mexicans into first place in Group C, saw the two nations trade goals in the first 10 minutes. Mexico proved too much for Los Cuscatlecos as the game wore on, however, thanks to Hernandez's strong performance.
- 8' – MEX – Hedgardo Marin
- 10' – SLV – Nelson Bonillo
- 29' – MEX – Elias Hernandez
- 55' – MEX – Orbelin Pineda
- CONCACAF Man of the Match: Elias Hernandez
- PUTTING ON A SHOW: Mexico as a whole were impressive in their Gold Cup opener, but Elias Hernandez was the player that really stood out. He not only set up El Tri's first goal with a pinpoint free kick and their third with a teasing cross, but also scored an impressive winner by picking a ball out of the air and volleying it low and away. The rest of Group C and the Gold Cup field in general have been put on high alert as to how dangerous Hernandez can be.
- WIDE ISSUES: El Salvador's attack had plenty of good moments, but their defense struggled mightily when it came to defending balls sent in from the left. The three goals they conceded were products of crosses whipped in from that area, including the headed opener from Hedgardo Marin just eight minutes in. Mexico identified that as an area of weakness and kept at it, and the Salvadorans never found an answer.
- OPEN AND ENTERTAINING: This match was a good way to wrap up the first round of group games in the competition, as both sides played aggressively and not reactively. The first 10 minutes were a treat, with both sides finding the back of the net, and it was a sign of things to come for the remaining 80. Mexico ultimately proved the superior team, but El Salvador also looked capable of causing opposing teams trouble in the final third.
Mexico (4-3-3 left to right): #1 Jesus Corona – #21 Luis Reyes (46' #7 Orbelin Pineda), #14 Hedgardo Marin, #4 Hugo Ayala, #6 Edson Alvarez – #15 Rodolfo Pizarro, #16 Jorge Hernandez (46' #5 Jesus Molina), #20 Jesus Duenas – #11 Elias Hernandez, #19 Angel Sepulveda (70' #8 Erick Gutierrez), #18 Jesus Gallardo
El Salvador (4-4-2, left to right): #22 Benji Villalobos (76' #18 Derby Carrillo) – #13 Alexander Larin, #5 Ivan Mancia, #4 Henry Romero, #21 Bryan Tamacas – #14 Andres Flores (59' #8 Dennis Pineda), #12 Narciso Orellana, #7 Darwin Ceren, #10 Gerson Mayen (65' #16 Oscar Ceren) – #11 Rodolfo Zelaya, #9 Nelson Bonilla
- MEX: Thursday, July 13 – vs. Jamaica (10:30 pm ET | FS1 & Univision; TSN GO)
- SLV: Thursday, July 13 – vs. Curacao (8 pm ET | FS1 & UniMas; TSN GO)